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<xTITLE>Mediate.com Adopts Online Mediation Practice and Ethical Standards</xTITLE>

Mediate.com Adopts Online Mediation Practice and Ethical Standards

by Colin Rule, Jim Melamed
September 2021

One of the Primary Recommendations of the Mediate.com Task Force on Online Mediation is to update mediation practice and ethical standards to fully embrace online mediation. In response, the Mediate.com Board of Directors has now formally adopted the Task Force's Recommended Practice Standards for Online Mediation effective January 1, 2022.

The Task Force's Recommendation reads as follows:

"3 - Update Mediation Practice and Ethical Standards to Embrace Current and Evolving Issues Raised by Online Mediation

Update mediator practice and ethical standards to fully embrace online mediation and online mediation training.  Online privacy and security issues need to be addressed in addition to mediation confidentiality.  Issues of participant communicational preferences, and platform equity and access also need to be addressed."

As is described under the Standards and Technology Committee section of the Final Task Force Report, the following Practice Standards for Online Mediation are intended to be consistent with the International Council for Online Dispute Resolution (ICODR) Standards (ICODR.org) for ODR generally, except that these new standards are exclusively focused on online mediation processes as opposed to ODR generally.
 

Mediate.com Practice Standards for Online Mediation
 

  1. Accessible: Online Mediation should be easy for parties to find and participate in and not limit their right to representation. Online Mediation should be available through both mobile and desktop channels, minimize costs to participants, and be easily accessed by people with different physical ability levels.
     
  2. Accountable: Online Mediation providers should be continuously accountable to participants and the legal institutions and communities that are served.
     
  3. Competent: Online Mediation providers must have the relevant expertise in dispute resolution, legal, technical execution, language, and culture required to deliver competent, effective services in their target areas.  Online Mediation services must be timely and use participant time efficiently.
     
  4. Confidential: Online Mediation providers must maintain the confidentiality of party communications in line with policies that must be made public around: a) who will see what data, and b) how that data can be used.
     
  5. Impartial: Online Mediation must treat all participants with respect and dignity. Online Mediation may enable often silenced or marginalized voices to be heard, and ensure that offline privileges and disadvantages are not replicated in the Online Mediation process.
     
  6. Fair/Impartial/Neutral: Online Mediation providers must treat all parties impartially and in line with due process, without bias or benefits for or against individuals, groups, or entities.  Conflicts of interest of providers, participants, and system administrators must be disclosed in advance of the commencement of Online Mediation services.
     
  7. Legal: Online Mediation providers must abide by and uphold the laws in all relevant jurisdictions.
     
  8. Secure: Online Mediation providers must ensure that data collected and communications between those engaged in Online Mediation is not shared with any unauthorized parties.  Users must be informed of any breaches in a timely manner.
     
  9. Transparent: Online Mediation providers must explicitly disclose in advance: a) the form and enforceability of mediation outcomes, and b) the risks and benefits of participation. Data in Online Mediation should be gathered, managed, and presented in ways to ensure it is not misrepresented or out of context. 

These newly adopted Mediate.com Standards for Online Mediation will be further discussed as part of Mediate.com's September 24 Forum on the Final Report of the Online Mediation Task Force.  We hope that you will be able to attend!

Biography



Colin Rule is CEO of Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc. ("RIS"), home of Mediate.com, MediateUniversity.com, Arbitrate.com, CaseloadManager.com and a number of additional leading online dispute resolution initiatives.  From 2017 to 2020, Colin was Vice President for Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies. Tyler acquired Modria.com, an ODR provider that Colin co-founded, in 2017.  Previously, from 2003 to 2011, Colin was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal.  Further, Colin co-founded Online Resolution in 1999, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, and served as its CEO and President.  Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002, and co-author of The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection, published by the ABA in 2017. Colin received the first Frank Sander Award for Innovation in ADR from the American Bar Association in 2020, and the Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) in 2013. Colin holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and Colin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.  You can read many of Colin's articles and see some of his talks at colinrule.com/writing.

 


Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and served as CEO of Mediate.com through June 2020 (25 years).  During Jim's tenure, Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.  Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86). Jim's undergraduate degree is in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.

Jim has received the following awards: The Oregon Mediation Association's 2003 Award for Excellence; The Oregon State Bar's 2006 Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence; The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; The 2012 Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) "Getting To Yes" Award; The APFM's first Outstanding Mediator Award (2018); and the Oregon Mediation Association's 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.